After Hurricane Katrina tens of thousands of children were forced to evacuate their homes and attend school in other cities and states. One study out of Columbia University found that in the six months after Katrina, displaced families had moved an average of 3 1/2 times, with some moving as many as nine times. In the year following the storm, 30 percent of displaced children were either not enrolled in school or not attending regularly. The same study found that children post-Katrina are 4.5 times more likely to have serious emotional disturbance than pre-Katrina.
Today, Louisiana has the nation’s highest rate of young adults who are neither in school nor working. And researchers are starting to ask: could the widespread gaps in schooling after Katrina be the reason?